A new public service partnership to assist Staten Island residents in need of legal advice and assistance to help resolve their citizenship and naturalization status has been formed by the Staten Island Advance, the College of Staten Island (CSI), The City University of New York Citizenship and Immigration Project, Project Hospitality, The Staten Island Immigrants Council, and El Centro De Hospitalidad.

The program includes a free citizenship and immigration service office at CSI on the main floor of Building 1A in Room 108, which will be staffed every Friday from 9:30am to 5:00pm by a lawyer and paralegal. The office can be reached at 718-982-2370.

There will also be a borough-wide Citizenship Fair Saturday, March 10 from 10:00am to 4:00pm at Brighton Heights Reformed Church, 320 St. Marks Place in St. George, Staten Island.

The free citizenship and immigration services now being offered at CSI, as well as the Citizenship Fair, will help immigrants in a variety of ways, including: naturalization, relative petitions, adjustment of status, consular processing, asylum and refugee issues, certificates of citizenship, replacement of lost or damaged documents, the Diversity Visa Lottery, and representation in removal proceedings (via sister organizations) and referrals. All services are free and confidential.

Advance Editor Brian Laline said, “We are grateful for the initiative and the leadership City University is showing to help people in our community who might not know where to turn for help, and we are pleased to partner with the college and other Island agencies to spread that word.”

CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson said, “This public service partnership, led by The Advance, the University, the College, and respected community organizations sends a timely message of hope and assistance to Staten Island’s diverse immigrant communities. The labyrinth of rules and regulations can be a daunting maze for people who are trying to become citizens. The message is clear: help is on the way!”

The Rev. Terry Troia, Director of Project Hospitality and a founding board member of El Centro de Hospitalidad and the Staten Island Immigrants Council, is enthusiastic about the Citizenship Fair: “Staten Island is home to the fastest growing immigration communities in New York City. Immigrants are positive contributors to our economy and our community. Extending immigrant legal services through CSI is a way of welcoming them with open arms.”

The initiative is part of the Citizenship and Immigration Project sponsored by The City University of New York. The Project already staffs offices in other boroughs.

“We are excited about this project,” said CSI President Marlene Springer. “It offers to the immigrant population of Staten Island a professional and confidential service where their questions can be answered and assistance provided. In a world where U.S. citizenship is a goal for so many, this program is a great gift. It’s part of our outreach to the community and another strong bridge between the college and Staten Island.”

Allan Wernick, director of the CUNY Project and a Professor at CUNY’js Baruch College said: “I’m pleased that we are expanding our services to assist Staten Island’s immigrant community. Our goal is to ensure that immigrants in all of New York’s boroughs have access to high-quality, free immigration law, and assistance.”

Midori Hills, directing attorney of the Citizenship and Immigration Project, said, “It’s important that legal immigrants on Staten Island have the opportunity to have their naturalization and immigration questions answered professionally and at no charge. Unfortunately, this community has been, on occasion, the target of scams, where an applicant for citizenship has paid thousands of dollars for services they never received. We offer those services for free, and we deliver.”

The College of Staten Island is located at 2800 Victory Boulevard in the Willowbrook section of Staten Island. For more information about the citizenship and immigration service office at CSI, call the citizenship and immigration office on Fridays at 718-982-2370. For more information about the Citizenship Fair call the CSI office of communications at 718-982-2328.